Homeless Man Arrested in Connection With Alleged Cambridge Kidnapping

A 52-year-old homeless man is facing two counts of kidnapping in connection with a Feb. 13 incident

Police have arrested a man they say kidnapped two young girls as they were walking home last Wednesday in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Fifty-two-year-old Lionel Ivan Brathwaite Jr., who is homeless, was arrested Saturday morning near Central Square and is facing two counts of kidnapping. The arrest came three days after two sisters say Brathwaite smelled like alcohol when he stopped them on Feb. 13 around 5:15 p.m. to ask for directions in the area of Pleasant and Auburn streets.

"Any kind of predatory behavior is really scary," said Cambridge resident Zoe Sundra.

Police say Brathwaite grabbed one of the sisters by the arm and wandered around the neighborhood with them, eventually walking down William Street where a surveillance camera captured the three on video

"I would consider that a safe street," said Eva Harris, who lives in the neighborhood.

Harris says she usually feels safe, even when she walks around alone at night.

"Often I have my ear buds in," she said.

The girls seen in the surveillance video eventually ran away towards their home after police say Brathwaite tried to get them to go down an alley with him.

The surveillance video of this incident was released to the public one day after Cambridge officials warned the public about the suspicious incidents and urged everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

This case marked the second time that investigators say a stranger followed a girl in the area in February alone.

In an unrelated case from two weeks earlier, police say another stranger followed a 17-year-old girl home from Central Square on Feb. 3.

The girl's mother reported the incident to police on Feb. 13. 

The same man reportedly attempted to approach the woman’s daughter a year ago at her work and while she was walking home from school.

The man in this second incident is described as a white or light-skinned male with a noticeable scar on his head. He is also bald and drives a black motor vehicle.

Police say this case is separate from the arrest made on Saturday and they are continuing to investigate.

"Women in particular should be more careful, especially when they're alone," said Sonia Singh.

"We sort of have to have a different awareness around as at night than a guy would, but that is the reality," Harris added.

According to the Sex Offender Registry, Braithwaite is a level 3 sex offender. He was convicted on one count of aggravated rape on April 18, 2003.

It's unclear when Brathwaite will face a judge or if he has a lawyer.

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